Philosopher, I am not. My next big piece of writing, however, is taking me into the realm of academe. “Scaffolding Conversations about Writing in Google Docs: An Inquiry into Feedback and Revision” is a proposed and accepted title that I am drafting with a great colleague and thought partner, Becca Woodard (@BeccaWoodard), who I met as part of my participation in the 2012 University of Illinois Writing Project (UIWP) Summer Institute (SI).
In the first week of the 2013 UIWP Summer Institute, we led our new fellows through a reflection into their own writing processes, which seeds ideas for a few of our projects across the SI. This year, my writing process visualization (above) revolved around this new academic writing opportunity and how it stemmed out of work I had done for the 2012 SI. Writing, research and presentations that I had done at the 2012 SI drew Becca’s attention to my classroom for part of her studies and research. While observing my writing instruction, she noticed some of the unique activities available to my students thanks to their access to collaborative technology and an authentic curriculum, both key parts of my New Tech classroom.
During this entire process, I found our relationship more collaborative than any teacher-researcher partnerships I had experienced — we asked questions; hearkened back to our SI readings; reflected on teaching as a lifestyle; shared resources back and forth; made suggestions… we talked. And the value of talk is of real interest to me as a teacher dedicated to giving students the 21st century skills to collaborate and she as a leader of pre-service teachers who need to be prepared to teach literacy.
Our process has been successful largely in part to this relationship that became a collaboration. I pick this word order specifically because our relationship as writers came first as part of our group meeting times at the UIWP SI, which shares the National Writing Project’s vision that the best teachers of writing are writing teachers (take a minute to think about it…). Then, our shared passion for innovation and literacy became our fuel for this upcoming book chapter. Certainly, I could string the buzzwords together , but the phraseology would not be indicative of how this work is built.
Along the way, I am learning how to better-utilize the same tools that I have been using to facilitate deeper learning in my classroom literacy tasks. We are leveraging Google Hangouts and Google Docs to synchronously work together across the state as Becca settles into her faculty position at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
The UIWP has been a large part of reshaping my expectations for professional development. I am looking forward to having a development, though, that grew out of two professionals building a collaboration around writing.